Eastbourne Bus Barn – Controversy that won’t go away

It appears that this issue will not go away, given its low priority rating in the ratepayers survey it will continue to be a point of controversy until construction is completed. HuttNZ feels it is a cop out to make good on past failures by the Hutt City Council in dealing with Eastbourne issues. The story so far…..

The fate of the Eastbourne land that nearly caused the town to launch a secession attempt has moved closer to resolution with acceptance of  a $2.2 million makeover in Hutt City Council’s latest spending plans.

But some councillors say the funding is exorbitant in a tough economic climate where the focus is on finding cuts.

Renovating the 70-year-old barns was one of the sticking points during a stoush between the council and Eastbourne residents, when the coastal town threatened to secede to Wellington.

A compromise was reached when the council agreed to set aside $500,000 to refurbish the site, with the plans later costed at nearly $3m. The project’s cost has now been estimated at $2.2m in the council’s long-term plan, which councillor Max Shierlaw said was too much in this environment.

He was one of two councillors who opposed the bus barn spending, citing public surveys where it rated poorly. “The community at large have spoken loud and clear and they do not see this as a priority.”

Even residents in Petone, Seaview and Eastbourne were split on the spending, he said. “People I’ve spoken to think it’s nuts … it’s just a hang-over from the Eastbourne Rights secession plan.”

But Lower Hutt Mayor David Ogden said he was not interested in going through the argument again.

The council had drawn up plans for the site and consulted extensively with the community. The barns had a heritage rating, and their refurbishment was an investment for the council because they could be rented out.

“I’m sure it will be something we’ll be proud of when we’re finished,” he said.

The overhaul includes money to strengthen the building located just south of Eastbourne and landscaping. The council has a tentative rental agreement with a bus company to use the barns. Hutt City pocketed $2 million from the sale of the former Eastbourne Bus company in the 1990s to reduce debt and by oversight had failed to charge the City Line bus company use of the building that could have been used to maintain it.

The area has caused controversy for years, with the bus barn deteriorating and a community proposal for the area rejected by Hutt City Council.

When the council announced plans to demolish the building and subdivide the land, Eastbourne Rights group organised a petition to secede to Wellington City Council.

Community board chairman Ian Young said the council had come around to the idea of public consultation, even devoting its staff to helping with the report. Mr Young pitched the upgrade project as “an investment opportunity”. Rents from the bus company and for the flats that will be created are anticipated to be worth $100,000 per annum.The bus company is contributing $350,000 to the project.

More than 40 submissions on the land were received by February 2008 as to what to do with the Bus Barns.

Renovating the 70-year-old barns was one of the sticking points during a stoush between the council and Eastbourne residents, when the coastal town threatened to secede to Wellington.

4 thoughts on “Eastbourne Bus Barn – Controversy that won’t go away

    1. Hi there, I’m a journalist doing a story about the bus barns and was wondering if you know any Eastbourne residents who would talk to me about it? People who are either for or against it? Cheers, Sarah.

      1. Two key people Mr Greg Dellabacra and Mr Max Shierlaw (HCC councilor) against it. On the positive, most of the council.
        Vox Pops of the general public will show attitude. If you can unearth the commercial agreement by the council which states the relationship between the bus company and the HCC from the early 90s you will be a star, as in my opinion this the linchpin as to why the development is proceeding. It would appear a commercial agreement absolved the bus company of any ongoing costs, a huge mistake by the council, which they are now fudging to hide inadequacies of previous management.

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